Done with that, I have a chore to do. One of my favorite moments at the farm was a winter day when, standing on the river road against the DNR hillside, with no creek or winter drainages anywhere near, I realized that I could hear water running - gurgling - dripping. Wet defines winter (almost as much as "dark") at Smoke Farm and on that day I could hear the water flowing down the hill through the rocks and thin soil and between the roots and dead wood (it is not unlike the sound of water passing through a well maintained beaver dam). The sound of water running was everywhere. So, from my field pack, I remove a pint canning jar, fill it with river water, and replace it safely padded inside the pack.
|low down. the log over the ravine|
I head up to the slough and turn left up the hill hoping to pass through the woodpecker forest once more. It is a steep hike and brushy at times, but I have found this route to be the easiest, or at least the most pleasant way to the top.
|the bench just above the woodpecker forest|
|the final slope|
It has variety, both in vegetation and in steepness. I stop at the false summit that is just 50 yards inside the forest. I look over at the true top, maybe 300 yards off and 25 feet taller. The true top is clear cut. I decide that I have no reason to go there.
This hilltop in the trees is what I come for. I never noticed it before, but the tallest point on this forested summit is a western red cedar stump, one of the old ones. I set up my camera to take video. I remove the jar and pour the water on the ground. Then I sit down for a spell and watch the video. There is no ceremony. It is just the act of pouring water. I realize that the ceremony, the dance that the not present anthropologist would have recorded was the difficult hike up the hill. My chanting was little more than the occasional, "fuck" every time I ran into the thorns of a blackberry vine. The task is complete. I have primed the pump for a winter at Smoke Farm. Winter can begin.